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Fri Apr 27, 2012, 10:09 AM

Inspection rule pits poultry industry against unions


A proposed rule by the Agriculture Department (USDA) that would speed up inspections at poultry processing plants has enraged unions.

Chicken and turkey producers support the proposal, saying it could modernize outdated inspection procedures. But those in labor organizations are seeking to modify the rule, arguing it would shift too much responsibility over to plant owners and endanger the safety of the food and workers. Also at stake are up to 800 poultry inspector positions that could be affected by the new regulation.

Stan Painter, a poultry inspector for more than 26 years from Crossville, Ala., said consumers could suffer if the rule is enacted.

They are going to be able to make the determination on their own product. Theres a dollar value attached here, Painter said. As an independent inspector, Im concerned with what goes out to the consumer. With the plant, Im concerned with what its going out the door to make me money.

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